Fantasy Football Week 4: Making the Call on Toughest Lineup Decisions
Somewhat like the Indianapolis Colts, it has been tougher sledding than anticipated for fantasy football owners heading into Week 4.
Fret not, though, as Week 4 appears to feature a more favorable slate and plenty of games prone to high-scoring outputs. With three games in the books for each team—minus the Thursday teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers—there is plenty of data to analyze to charge forward in confident fashion.
Within, let's break down some of the notable start 'em, sit 'em scenarios facing owners this week.
START: Andy Dalton vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Yet there he is after scoring 18, 21 and 30 points to start the season. The fact is Dalton looks more comfortable under center this year, he's protected by one of the league's top offensive lines and he's surrounded by an elite cast of weapons headlined by A.J. Green.
Owners look cautious, though, hence Dalton still only touting an ownership percentage of 67.1. It makes sense given the fact Dalton has never been reliable on a week-to-week basis.
Really, owners don't have a choice this weekend. Dalton will get a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs, meaning a date with the defense allowing the most points to quarterbacks this season.
It's a situation too good to pass on, so expect Dalton to have another big day.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 21-of-29, 280 passing yards, two touchdowns.
SIT: Eli Manning at Buffalo Bills
Look, it's hard to sit a recognizable face like Eli Manning, but the New York Giants signal-caller just isn't going into a good situation this weekend.
Manning has consecutive 19-point showings to his name, but it's important to note those came at home. The last and only time Manning hit the road this year was in Week 1 for an encounter with the Dallas Cowboys, where he mustered just seven points.
Now Manning has to travel again—this time to chilly Buffalo to take on the Bills.
Owners will see the Bills rank terribly against quarterbacks, but keep in mind most of the poor numbers have to do with a Week 2 throttling against the New England Patriots at the hands of Brady, who attempted 59 passes and threw three scores on the way to 28 points.
Manning isn't Brady, and he isn't surrounded by a comparable amount of weapons outside of Odell Beckham Jr. Look for Buffalo to bottle him up.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 18-of-36, 177 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception.
START: Karlos Williams vs. New York Giants
On the other side of the Giants-Bills matchup rests a tough decision in the Buffalo backfield.
Rookie Karlos Williams has looked great while scoring a touchdown in each of his first three games, but he still sits in a backfield featuring LeSean McCoy and an offense with a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor who can run well.
From the sounds of a tweet by ESPN's Mike Rodak, though, Shady won't be able to go this weekend: "Rex Ryan to @WFAN660 on LeSean McCoy vs. NYG: 'I’m telling everybody, ‘Oh yeah, he’s got a great chance,’ but we all know he doesn’t.'"
If Shady misses the contest, Williams gets the bulk of the carries. Buffalo will remain a run-first team either way, which bodes well for the odds Williams gets to make an impact.
And he should against New York. The Giants have allowed 19, 21 and 15 points this year despite the opposition rushing no more than 22 times in each game. Williams might see more on his own this weekend, so get him in those lineups.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 26 carries, 105 yards, one touchdown.
SIT: Alfred Morris vs. Philadelphia Eagles
It's never fun to announce, but here goes: It's over for Alfred Morris.
Washington's former lead back scored just one point against the Giants last week—not because the defense is great, but because head coach Jay Gruden decided to let the veteran rush the ball just six times.
Matt Jones' overtaking Morris has been one of the biggest storylines of the season because of the younger back's obvious explosive talent. The fact Morris fumbled last week doesn't figure to eat into his growing amount of carries.
Even if Morris were still the every-down back with proven production to his name this season, he would be hard to recommend against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that has allowed just the seventh-fewest points to backs this season.
Look for Morris to struggle if he gets a big workload. If.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 10 carries, 38 yards.
START: Frank Gore vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
This is easier: Frank Gore is back.
The veteran got off to a sluggish start with the Indianapolis Colts but broke free in Week 3 on the road against the Tennessee Titans, carrying it 14 times for 86 yards and two scores, good for 20 points.
Gore won't go for 20 points every time out, but he just might again thanks to a visit from the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend.
The Jaguars looked decent against backs over the first two weeks, but that's what happens when a unit faces the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins. New England ran early and often in Week 3, and the backfield wound up totaling 123 yards and four scores and 40 points.
Look for the Colts to get out to an early lead and then assume a ball-control approach with Gore as the bell-cow back. He shouldn't have any issues springing free of a miserable defense.
Projected Week 4 Stats: 23 carries, 110 yards, one touchdown.
SIT: Ameer Abdullah at Seattle Seahawks
It was easy for owners to fall in love with Ameer Abdullah of the Detroit Lions.
With Joique Bell hurt, the Lions turned to their explosive rookie in Week 1, and he responded with 15 points. It's been a disaster since, though, as Abdullah didn't score any points in Week 2 and then struggled to just nine last weekend.
It should go without saying, but the sledding won't get easier in Seattle.
The Seahawks rank as fantasy's third-best defense against backs on average so far. They have yet to allow a rushing touchdown to a back, nor has any opposing backfield broken into double digits.
Considering Abdullah sits at 90.4 percent owned and there might be a thought or two about his being productive in the passing game, this was worth a mention: Don't do it.
Projected Week 4 Stats: Six carries, 27 yards. Four catches, 20 yards.
START: James Jones at San Francisco 49ers
It might seem a good idea, but there's no reason to shy away from Green Bay Packers veteran wideout James Jones.
Jones seems like a stopgap solution for the Packers, and there's a chance he could fall behind any number of the team's potent weapons on a weekly basis.
Case in point, Jones has posted at least 17 points in two games, but sandwiched between those outings was an eight-point performance.
This doesn't seem like the week to shy away from Jones, though. He's going to see many of the same target numbers as always with Davante Adams still struggling with an injury, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
It also helps that the 31-year-old gets to go against the San Francisco 49ers, a team downright incapable of covering receivers over the course of their last two outings. The unit has allowed four scores and 78 points in that span.
Projected Week 4 Stats: Six catches, 95 yards, one touchdown.
SIT: Jeremy Maclin at Cincinnati Bengals
Never chase last week's production in fantasy football.
It's great the Kansas City Chiefs made headlines last week because Jeremy Maclin found his way to paydirt, catching eight passes for 141 yards and 20 points in the process.
Maclin scored 10 total points over the two games prior.
Next weekend might better align with the Chiefs' woeful history than Maclin's anomaly of a performance. Kansas City has to travel to Cincinnati for an encounter with the Bengals and one of the league's best defenses.
Owners will point out that Cincinnati just gave up 33 points to wideouts because Steve Smith Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens exploded, but there's a big, big difference between traveling to Baltimore against a familiar divisional opponent and hosting a Kansas City team allowing plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
Maclin might score often this year, but don't expect it to happen in Cincinnati.
Projected Week 4 Stats: Six catches, 89 yards.
START: Owen Daniels vs. Minnesota Vikings
Owners have to get creative in a weekend without Gronk, and Denver Broncos tight end Owen Daniels presents one of the more interesting, if not toughest, decisions available.
Daniels was a non-factor in the team's first two games, scoring just one total point. He burst onto the scene against the Lions in Detroit last weekend, though, catching five passes for 28 yards and a score, good for eight points.
With Daniels the man stuck behind Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas on the target totem pole, though, owners have to see the right matchup for him to be a smart play.
He's got it this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings. Not only are the Vikings on the road, but they surrender an average of seven points per game to the position. It's a high number that could be worse too, when one considers two of their opponents (San Francisco and San Diego) either hardly use tight ends or are without their starter.
Daniels should see quality targets this weekend against a bad defense.
Projected Week 4 Stats: Six catches, 45 yards, one touchdown.
SIT: Jordan Cameron vs. New York Jets
Despite an ownership percentage of 82.9, Miami Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron must once again take a seat in all leagues.
Cameron was one of Miami's notable additions this offseason, but he's lost in an offense including Jarvis Landry, Rishard Matthews, DeVante Parker and others.
As such, Cameron has mustered just 10 catches in three games on the way to 14 points. It won't get easier in London against the New York Jets, a defense that ranks as the fourth-best unit on average against tight ends this year.
New York has surrendered just eight catches to all tight ends faced this season, good for a whopping eight fantasy points. Based on his production and role in the offense so far, Cameron won't be the one to turn things around for his position against the unit.
Projected Week 4 Stats: Three catches, 45 yards.